Scaffold-mediated delivery for non-viral mRNA vaccines


mRNA is increasingly being recognized as a promising alternative to pDNA in gene vaccinations. Only recently, owing to the needs of cancer immunotherapies, has the biomaterials/gene delivery community begun to develop new biomaterial strategies for immunomodulation. Here, we report a novel way to use implantable porous scaffolds as a local gene delivery depot to enhance mRNA vaccine immunization in vitro, and in vivo when compared with conventional bolus injections. We first evaluated transfection efficiencies of single-stranded mRNA condensed and charge neutralized with two lipids (Lipofectamine Messenger MAXTM LM-MM and StemfectTM SF) and two cationic polymers (in vivo-jetPEI™, Poly (β-amino ester)) as gene carriers. As SF demonstrated highest in vitro transfection and cell viability, it was selected for subsequent porous polymer scaffold-loading trials. Enhanced in vitro transfection of SF:mRNA nanoparticle-loaded poly (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) scaffolds was also observed with a DC2.4 cell line. Improved sustained local release and local transgene expression were also demonstrated with SF:mRNA nanoparticle-loaded pHEMA scaffolds in vivo compared with bolus injections. Our results suggest that mRNA polyplex-loaded scaffolds may be a superior alternative to either repeated bolus immunizations or ex vivo transfection cell immunotherapies.

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health/NIAID (5R01AI074661 and 2R56AI074661-06).

Author information

Ruying Chen designed and executed the study, analyzed and interpreted the data, and drafted and revised the manuscript. Hong Zhang executed the PBAE study, interpreted the data, and revised the manuscript. Jingxuan Yan executed portions of the study, interpreted the data, and revised the manuscript.

Correspondence to James D. Bryers.

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